Friday, May 18, 2012

GOD BLESS AMERICA opens exclusively in the Triangle Area today at the Colony Theater

Now playing at an indie art theater near me:

(Dir. Bobcat Goldthwait, 2011)

Although he’s nowhere near as well-known as his brother Bill, Joel Murray has built an impressive career out of solid supporting character work over the last 3 decades.

Especially recently with recurring roles on the shows Shameless, Two and a Half Men, and Mad Men, in which he played Freddy Rumsen, an alcoholic copy-writer who drunkenly peed his pants in one memorable episode.

Murray even popped up in last year’s Best Picture Oscar winner THE ARTIST as the policeman who saves Jean Dujardin from his burning apartment (with the help of Uggie the Dog).

But until now, Murray has never owned a movie as the lead.

Well, he really gets his chance in comedian Bobcat Goldthwait’s 4th film as director, GOD BLESS AMERICA, which opens exclusively in the Triangle at the Colony Theater in North Raleigh today.

Murray plays a man who takes the mantra from NETWORK (“I’m mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”) to huge extremes when he picks up a firearm and starts offing people that he believes deserve to die.

That would be offensive reality TV stars, a Bill O’Reilly-type political pundit, people who take up more than one parking space, folks who talk and text during movies, and everybody who’s a fan of or involved in any way with an American Idol-style show called American Superstarz.

Murray can’t help but ask: “Why have a civilization anymore if we no longer are interested in being civilized?”

Back before his killing spree, Murray was diagnosed with a terminal illness, so there’s a nothing left to lose vibe (along with a bit of a Breaking Bad mixed with FALLING DOWN feel).

After taking his first victim - North Carolina native Maddie Hasson as an obnoxious reality show pampered princess -Murray meets a teenage girl (Tara Lynne Barr - annoying at first, but she grew on me) who latches on to him. Barr is just as full of rage about the inundation of crap culture as Murray so they join up as “Platonic spree killers,” as she puts it.

Folks will know in the first 3 minutes if this is a movie for them, as it opens with Murray fantasizing about blowing away the moron neighbor’s screaming baby with a shotgun. A bloody image of the mother shrieking will definitely disturb some folks, but if seen in the right light of satire - it’s a bold gutsy way to start a movie.

At its worst, GOD BLESS AMERICA can resemble last year’s SUPER, which starred Rainn Wilson as a delusional super hero wannabe/vigilante who bonds with Ellen Page (JUNO) who also wants to fight what she thinks is the good fight.

But as Barr says “don't you ever call me fucking 'Juno' again.”

It appears that Goldthwait’s relationship with his daughter, Tasha, is the basis of the duo here. In a recent stand-up special, Goldthwait told a few anecdotes about Tasha that echo in much of the dialogue.

Murray does a great job as the everyman on the edge, handling Godlthwait’s diatribes with heated passion; he indeed owns the film.

Even though it takes aim at easy targets, GOD BLESS AMERICA hits them all hilariously.

It’s a funny fearless film that succeeds in being what Goldthwait calls “a violent movie about kindness,” as it provides an outlet for those who want to live vicariously through these pissed off people.

I mean c’mon! Who wouldn’t want to kill the Kardashians, execute entertainment gossip mongers (I love the parody of TMZ called TMI), and daily eliminate all the a**holes that are cluttering up our culture? If you can forget the concept of consequences and just go with it, then this is the movie for you.

GOD BLESS AMERICA is now playing at the Colony Theater (check their website for show-times), and is available on Demand.

More later...

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